‘Our place’ is a beacon for all Leeds communities

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It was once labelled one of the country’s most troubled ‘sink estates’, usually hitting the headlines for the wrong reasons. But now, the transformation of New Wortley is well on its way.

A celebration event yesterday (Feb 4) looked at how the west Leeds neighbourhood - one of the country’s most economically deprived - fought back from its less than flattering reputation to become a beacon of grass roots empowerment and reclaimed community pride.

The YEP has reported previously how locals have worked hard to successfully bid for a £680,000 Lottery grant to rebuild their community centre. Residents lobbied relentlessly to encourage investment and came up with new ways of dealing with long-standing issues such as drugs and anti-social behaviour.

Over £3.5 million pounds of direct investment has now been made, and new training, jobs and health projects are flourishing.

However locals are clear that the job isn’t done yet.

Yesterday, guests including shadow communities secretary Steve Reed were told about New Wortley’s journey from sink estate to beacon estate. Bill Graham, from New Wortley Community Association, said Mr Reed had commented that New Wortley “could be a template for the rest of the country”, but he stressed: “There’s a long way to go”.

Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves praised the community’s “ground-breaking work to bring about real change”. “They want things to be better for themselves, their neighbours and most importantly their children,” she said,

Visitors yesterday also had the chance to get a sneak preview of the new community centre building, which is due to open officially in May. New Wortley is part of the ‘Our Place’ partnership, a national pilot project which saw agencies in a neighbourhood coming together with local people to identify and tackle the issues that matter most to them.